A public meeting organised in Jaffna last Sunday, 25 August, by the United Socialist Party (USP) was a great success with more than 70 people attending. It was to launch the party’s new book in Tamil: ‘The Tamil Eelam People’s Struggle – A Marxist View’ and took place in the main Public Library Hall in Jaffna.
A cross section of well-known academics and others at the meeting were enthusiastic about a book being published by a left and Marxist party on a struggle which ran through their lives for close to three decades. It consists of articles that have been published in our Sinhala and Tamil papers – Rathutharuva and Sentharahei – over a period spanning almost 20 years from 1998 to 2018. They cover the various events throughout the brutal war which devastated the lives of the Tamil people in the north and east and give a class-based analysis.
The launch in Jaffna was publicised in advance in the social media and through a vigorous leafletting campaign conducted from Vavunia to Jaffna. Our leaflet explained the general political situation and called on people to get involved with us on the basis of our socialist ideas and progamme. We also did energetic fly-posting announcing the 25th book-launch meeting.
As a prelude to the main event on the eve of the meeting, the 24th August, we held a press conference in the Jaffna Press Club. The following morning, the two main Jaffna papers publicised the speech made by Sirithunga Jayasuriya, General Secretary of the USP at the media briefing on their front pages. It was the top news in the Valampuri paper and the Thinakural carried a full article.
In the evening after the meeting the Sirasa all-island 7 o’clock news covered the meeting and carried the USP statement. The following day, the Jaffna Shakthi 7.30 news programme also carried an item on the book launch for nearly three minutes and other TV channels like Dan TV and Vasanthan also gave us coverage.
At the meeting, two academics of the University of Jaffna – Dr. Saminathan Vimal and Dr. Mahendran Thiruvarangan – spoke as well Srinath Perera, Editor of Rathutharuva and Sirithunga Jayasuriya, whose views were very well received as was a guest speech delivered by Suresh, a member of the New Socialist Alternative of India. M. K. Sivajilingam, a former member of parliament, also made a short contribution.
It is not easy to have a meeting in Jaffna organised by Southern people but it was a great success. It turned into a detailed analysis of the Tamil national question and the consequences of the three decades war. The pros and cons of the right to self-determination for the Tamils, which runs through this book as a golden thread, were widely touched on by all the speakers.
40 copies of the book were sold at the event along with other socialist books at the book stall conducted by the Socialist Book House along. 80 copies were handed over to Poobalasingham, a major book shop in Jaffna, on their request for selling. Since the book launch, many people have inquired about how to get a copy of the book.